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MultiState's Local Policy Digest explores the top legislative developments from municipalities across the U.S.

North Carolina's cities and counties scramble to enact provisions of the state's “brunch bill.”

In June, the North Carolina state legislature passed the “brunch bill” (NC SB 155), which gives cities and counties the right to allow restaurants and retail stores to sell alcoholic beverages on Sundays starting at 10 a.m. Previously, state law prohibited alcoholic beverages sales before noon on Sunday.

Specifically, the new law permits the sale of “malt beverages, unfortified wine, fortified wine, and mixed beverages,” but not liquor, which will remain the exclusive product of North Carolina's state-operated alcoholic beverage control stores. Of the cities and counties MultiState tracks across North Carolina, 46 have either adopted or introduced ordinances to incorporate the before-noon sales hours into their local codes.

Erie County, Pennsylvania, advances an ordinance barring landlords from denying renters based on criminal history.

Earlier this week, the Erie County Council voted to advance an ordinance (Ordinance 87) that would make it illegal to deny a housing application based on an applicant's criminal history, gender identity, or source of income. The ordinance is a product of the Erie County Human Relations Commission, which claims that broadening the scope of county discrimination laws will help marginalized groups.

Erie County County Councilman and Finance Committee Chairman André Horton said many people have difficulty finding a job because of criminal histories and the same problems arise when searching for a place to live. However, some local landlords are furious with the addition of criminal history to the list of unlawful criminal practices in housing. "You continually take away our rights to investigate the people that want to live in our investment properties,” said
Nick Marinelli, a local landlord. “But then you complain about us not having control over our tenants or why we are renting to bad tenants."

Joe Aguglia, the commission’s executive director, said that the ordinance would comply with federal guidelines and other Pennsylvania county ordinances that include criminal history, gender identity and source of income as protected classes.

The ordinance will be read a second time at the next Erie County Council meeting on September 19.

A Bainbridge Island, Washington, city councilman is proposing an ordinance to outlaw balloons containing plastic, metal, or Mylar.

City Councilman Michael Scott is floating an ordinance (Ordinance 2017-20) that would expand the Litter Control Code's definition of “littering” to include “the uncontrolled release and disposal of non-biodegradable balloons.”

If passed, the new ordinance would prohibit the “sale and use of any type of balloon that is not 100 percent biodegradable,” including those used for public, private, or civic celebrations or advertisements. It would not, however, apply to “manned hot air balloons, or to balloons used in governmental, scientific, or meteorological research projects.”

Violators of the new ordinance could expect to be charged with a misdemeanor and fined up to $500 or jailed for up to six months.

Scott said the ordinance is a protective measure aimed at preserving local wildlife and ecosystems. The ordinance cites findings from the Environmental Protection Agency and other organizations that say balloons can kill marine mammals, birds, and other wildlife due to entanglement or ingestion.

“The city of Bainbridge Island can be a leader on this issue,” Scott said. “I am expecting the Bainbridge community to be very supportive.”

The amended ordinance is set to be heard at the next Bainbridge Island City Council meeting on September 12.

MultiState currently tracks more than 3,700 cities, towns, and counties. Additional information about our Local Tracking Service is available here.